In first-person dialect, a woman now in her nineties recalls her very young love for a crippled orphan she was hired to care for. One day a delegation of children visits the bed-bound Max to announce that they wish him to be king in an upcoming annual festival--he must choose a queen, and both Katie and the trio of ""little maids"" in the deputation are disappointed when he selects a girl he has only dreamed of. On Max's instructions, Katie follows his dreamed route along roads, through towns, and across water to an elegant island house, where she finds not only the girl of his dreams (also a cripple) but also an old man who makes braces and will care for Max in the future. The two lame children do reign at the celebration--and, Katie reports, later marry; her own love for Max now less personal, she remains in their service until he dies, a member of Parliament. How will today's American readers take Katie's happy acceptance of her own place in Max's story? On the one hand her progress from what she calls ""passion"" to a more selfless affection for Max is much stated but not explained; on the other hand the strange events--both the dream ""breaking"" and the archaic ritual--have an air of exotic authenticity. On balance, a genuine oddity.